Peugeot had a clever formula with the old 307 SW. Although it was not an unduly big car, the interior designers managed to package seven seats into it. It had the distinction of being just about the most compact car you could buy that was capable of accommodating that many people. Most sevenseater cars are considerably bigger.
For six months in 2006, I was custodian of a 307 SW long-termer, and liked it for its practicality and general usefulness. I removed the second row centre seat, for ease of access to the third row, and my daughter loved the car for its ability to transport her and a bunch of her chums. When the Peugeot 308 was launched last year, we knew that an SW version would not be too far behind, and here it is. It follows the same basic formula as its predecessor, and even has the same wheelbase as the 307 SW. But the front and rear track are wider, body rigidity has been improved, and the body is also a little larger: 72mm longer and a fraction wider. This has enabled just a touch more space to be shoehorned into the cabin.
There are also improvements in response to feedback gleaned from the old car. The seating modularity has been improved and made easier to operate, and the panoramic glass roof that was a popular feature in higherspec versions has now been made 27 per cent larger. This enables it to stretch further back, and partway over the third row of seats, instead of delivering overhead light just to the first two rows.
The estate 308 comes in a choice of eight engine options, three of them HDi diesels: 90, 110 or 136. All are Euro 4, and the two more powerful units have particle filters. One big improvement to the 308 SW compared with its predecessor is a more versatile tailgate. The glass section can be opened separately for quick access to the boot without having to open up the entire door. All 308 SWs come equipped with six airbags, electric front windows, seat height adjustment for both the driver and front passenger, air conditioning and ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Michelin Energy Saving Tyres are also standard kit.
RIVALS: FORD FOCUS, RENAULT MEGANE SPORT TOURER, VAUXHALL ASTRA
- Engine: 1997cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 136bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 240lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,550kg
- Combined Consumption: 47.8mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 155g/km (D)
- 0-62mph: 11.1secs
- Max speed: 125mph
- Insurance Group: 10